Usually one-move checkmate puzzles are easy. However, I am wondering if there is a relatively more difficult one-move checkmate puzzle. Here are a few thoughts:

  1. There are many legal moves.
  2. One or several legal moves are tempting but incorrect. Especially under time pressure, an inexperienced player tends to choose such a "wrong" move.
  3. Finding the checkmate move requires some out-of-the-box thinking. It is a move that most players will not normally consider, expecially under time pressure.

Anyone knows a good "difficult" one-move chekmate problem?

  • 4
    As it happens, I recently ran a mate-in-one competition, where even titled players struggled a little and gave many illegal moves under time pressure. You can find the problems here: lichess.org/study/6zUr5NJY – Remellion Mar 25 at 6:12
  • @Remellion: Thanks. I didn't know that mate in one could be that hard. – user1583209 Mar 25 at 7:35
  • @Remellion, these questions are exactly the ones that I am looking for! These questions are quite non-trivial to me. – Zuriel Mar 25 at 15:33

Very difficult is relative and given enough time players of most strength should be able to find a mate in one.

I don't have a concrete example, but in my view the following features would make it more difficult (some of these exclude each other):

  • a large number of possible moves (i.e. lots of pieces on the board and an open position)
  • the mating move is done by a piece moving to the back (towards the mating player)
  • it is a non-standard mate (not one you have seen before in your tactics excercise, but rather of a studies type)
  • the mating move is a move where the moving piece uncovers a piece that helps in the check mate (either by taking away squares from the king, or more tricky by pinning a possible defender)
  • lots of pins are involved that prevent defenders from defending
  • there are tempting moves that don't work for not-too-obvious reasons
  • the move is an en passant capture or an underpromotion or castling
  • (not sure this counts) the mate requires retrograde analysis to prove that en passant capture is allowed or that castling is allowed
  • large distances are involved, both in the move itself and in the attacking of the king (say moving a queen from h8 to a1 to check mate a king on a8 might not be that obvious)
  • the position is such that the pawns move unexpectedly in a direction you would not expect (down, left, right)
  • asking for a mate in one for black (without specifying that it is black's move) This can be particularly tricky if it looks as if white could mate as well.
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